Afghan President Hopeful for Peace

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the hope for peace in Afghanistan has increased, and he hopes to see a significant improvement in security within a year or two.President Karzai did not directly refer to reconciliation talks with the Taliban during his speech in Kabul Wednesday, but he said Afghanistan’s neighbors endorse the peace process.The New York Times on Wednesday quoted unnamed Afghan officials who said peace talks involved “extensive, face-to-face discussions” with Taliban commanders.  Afghan leaders also are reported to have met with members of the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida linked group responsible for numerous deadly attacks.The Taliban has publicly rejected the peace dialogue.  But NATO leaders say their forces have facilitated the safe passage of Taliban leaders to Kabul for talks.This year has been the deadliest in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001 with a U.S.-led operation that toppled the country’s Taliban rulers.  In violence Wednesday, at least 9 Afghan civilians, mostly children, were killed and 10 others wounded by a roadside bomb blast against a school bus carrying female students in Nimroz province.NATO said a separate roadside bomb killed one of its service members in southern Afghanistan.The alliance also said a joint Afghan-coalition force killed more than 10 insurgents during an overnight operation in eastern Paktika province.In Helmand province, the alliance said Afghan and NATO troops detained several suspected insurgents and confiscated bomb-making materials and a quantity (22 kilograms) of wet opium – Voanews